South-central baby born with half heart undergoes life-saving surgery

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) – A Mid-South baby born with half a heart is getting a second chance at life.

After months of waiting, little Ja’Mia received her new heart just two weeks before her first birthday.

In true superstar fashion, 11-month-old Ja’Mia McFarland woke up after undergoing a heart transplant with a microphone in her hand.

Her mother, Laverne Webb, who has two other young children, said she learned Ja’Mia would be born with half a heart while still in the womb.

“I was scared when I first found out about her because I thought she wasn’t going to make it when I got her,” said her mother, Laverne Webb.

After nearly 6 months on the transplant list, Ja’Mia received the gift of her life from a donor just weeks before her 1st birthday.

Ja’Mia McFarland, 11 months (photo provided)

“I’m glad she has the chance to live a normal life,” Webb added. “It’s exciting because it’s like a birthday present for her.”

Jenny Strelsin is a Nurse Practitioner in the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Department at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.

“He may still be in the hospital, but this baby is celebrating his first birthday and unfortunately there are a lot of children who couldn’t make it,” Strelsin said.

She said around 1 in 4,000 babies are born with just one ventricle instead of two like Ja’Mia – the condition is often referred to as having a half heart.

“When you have a baby born with congenital heart disease. You now expect one ventricle to do the work of two pumping chambers and so we often see that fail,” Strelsin said.

With Ja’Mia already undergoing multiple surgeries, she said the transplant came at just the right time.

“I think she would have progressed to fulminant heart failure and felt terrible and eventually died on the waiting list,” Strelsin said.

With many milestones and a lifetime of medical visits ahead, her mother commends the hospital for her care.

“I really appreciate the doctors and nurses for taking care of her and they’ve spoiled her so much here,” Webb said.

Ja’Mia’s first birthday party will be held Saturday at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.

As medical expenses pile up, Blytheville native Ja’Mia’s family has started a GoFundMe to help with the recovery. If you would like to donate, please Click here.

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